Q:

What is personal health information?

A:

Quick Answer

Personal health information, otherwise known as protected health information, is individually identifiable health information transmitted in any form by a covered entity or its associates, according to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Information includes demographic details, physical and mental health history, health plan, health care provider and employer.

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Full Answer

HIPAA.com defines health information as information, recorded in any form or medium, that is created or received by a health care provider or health plan, and any information related to the past, present or future physical and mental health of an individual. Health information that is identifiable is protected under the HIPAA privacy rule, according to the National Institutes of Health. The privacy rule only applies to identifiable information held by a covered entity, or associates acting on behalf of a covered entity.

Individually identifiable health information held by anyone who is not a covered entity is not protected under the HIPAA privacy rule, as explained on HIPAA.com. Even for a covered entity, there are exceptions in which the privacy rule does not apply. These exceptions include personal health information held in education records covered by the Family Educational Right and Privacy Act, as amended by 20 U.S.C. 1232g, and employment records in which the employer holds personal health information only by virtue of being the employer and acting in that role.

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